Of all the Steelers rookies and young players being talked about this summer, from 1st round pick Artie Burns to Sean Davis to Javon Hargrave, Eli Rogers, Tyler Matakevich, etc, etc, the one name conspicuously absent from any sort of hype is sixth round pick Travis Feeney.
I find that rather disappointing, since I was really looking forward to the young linebacker out of Washington turning heads in training camp and during the preseason.
When you studied Travis Feeney’s NFL.com Draft profile that included such measurables as a 6-4, 230 lb frame, 4.5 speed and a 40-inch vertical, well, that was pretty darn enticing.
And then there was this analysis by Mark Dulgerian:
Feeney is one of the more athletic edge pass rushers whom many considered a late-round sleeper heading into Day 3. As he develops, he can carry over his special teams coverage skills to the Steelers’ units.
You had to wonder why a guy who recorded eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in his senior year with the Huskies and possessed so much raw athleticism would slip to the third day of the draft, but as he told ESPN in May, multiple shoulder surgeries may have contributed to his falling stock:
“That’s what I’m thinking why. You never know. Kind of unpredictable.”
- But, regardless of where an athlete is selected, if his skills shine through, the coaching staff is going to see it.
So have Feeney’s skills shined through so far this summer?
Rocky Training Camp for Travis Feeney Thus Far….
Google “Travis Feeney” and you don’t find much about him, other than stories that date back to the spring, right after the Steelers drafted him. Meanwhile, there are multiple stories to read about guys like Eli Rogers and 7th round pick Tyler Matakevich.
- Feeney missed some time early on in training camp due to injury and didn’t play in the Steelers preseason loss to the Lions two weeks ago.
This past Thursday, he finally made his debut in the Steelers preseason loss to the Eagles at Heinz Field, but only recorded one tackle.
Is pointing this stuff out a bit unfair? Perhaps. After all, what have we heard or read about cornerback Artie Burns so far this summer, other than the lumps he’s taken while trying to cover Antonio Brown at training camp? And when someone is injured and can’t practice or get into exhibition games, there aren’t going to be many stories written about him.
Fair enough, but the difference between Artie Burns and Travis Feeney is five rounds. That means Burns was a lock to make the team the second head coach Mike Tomlin called him to tell him he was the Steelers newest first round pick on during the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Dulgerian alluded to Feeney’s special teams prowess in his aforementioned assessment, and he was named the Huskies Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014.
There’s usually room on an NFL roster for a special teams demon, and Feeney can certainly put his skills to good use as he develops into an outside linebacker. Sadly for him, his draft status isn’t one that lends itself to the same benefit of the doubt Burns’ currently enjoys.
2 Presason Games Might Define Travis Feeney’s Steelers
So is Travis Feeney a prime candidate to wind up on the Steelers practice squad this year? At the moment, that appears to be Travis Feeney’s Steelers future.
Feeney’s a sentimental favorite in these parts. When Travis Feeney signed his rookie contract, this site observed that the Steelers have a long tradition of drafting successful linebackers in the sixth round, from Vince Williams, to Bryan Hinkle, to Eric Ravotti and of course, the legendary Greg Lloyd.
- However, Mike Tomlin is not wont to make sentimental decisions when it comes to awarding spots on either the Steelers 53 man roster or the practice squad.
Fortunately for him, Travis Feeney still has two preseason games to allow his skills to shine through. He’d be wise to take full advantage of every snap he gets. Here’s to hoping Travis Feeney gives Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, Joey Porter and Jerry Olsavsky every reason to give him the ultimate benefit of the doubt.